Polls: Abiodun, Amosun, Otegbeye, Adeola commend INEC - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Saturday, March 18, 2023

Polls: Abiodun, Amosun, Otegbeye, Adeola commend INEC

....as the exercise witness pocket of violence in some areas

The governorship and State Assembly elections in Ogun State began on a peaceful note, with electoral officials and materials arriving at various polling units across the state.

There was heavy presence of security operatives in all polling units and around towns and communities visited by our Correspondent and turn out of voters was impressive.

Speaking after casting their votes at their different polling units, the State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, who is the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), his People's Democratic Party counterpart, Ladi Adebutu, African Democratic Congress, Biyi Otegbeye, as well as former Governor of the State, Ibikunle Amosun, and the Senator-elect for Ogun West Senatorial District, Solomon Adeola, commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the conduct of the election.

Meanwhile, there were pockets of violence during the poll.

In Sapon area of Abeokuta, in Abeokuta local government area of the State, no fewer than four persons were arrested with a pistol and knife on their way to polling units by operatives of Nigerian Army.

A soldier at a road block in Sapon, Abeokuta while briefing newsmen confirmed that  "four persons have been arrested with dangerous  weapons, which included a gun and a knife .

He said " when you see soldiers being hard on anyone, he is not just punishing anyone .

"We arrested four people with gun and knife. What are they doing with the gun and knife at the polling unit?"

"I ask you, can you tell me what a voter wants to do with a gun and a knife" .

" If they escape from police , they cannot escape from soldiers, we will catch them."

At Eggua, polling unit 24, in Egbado North local government area of the State,  there were few political skirmishes as political thugs were seen harassing voters, but security personnel were drafted to the scene to douse the tension.

A voter, Hon Anthony Oludokun described the situation as unfortunate

In a related development, 
political thugs disrupted electoral process in Ward 13, Polling Unit 22, Itori Odo in Abeokuta South local government area.

Journalists and electoral officers who were subject of the attackers had to scamper for safety.

An armless NSCDC officer attempted rescuing the two ballot boxes, but was overpowered by the thugs who snatched the boxes and destroyed it immediately.

The trouble started when an agent of the All Progressive Congress (APC) agent challenged journalists for taken pictures at the unit.

One of them said, they had instructions not to allow anybody take pictures or record videos at the unit.

All efforts to convince the agent fell on deaf ears.

One of the thugs identified simply as Taiwo, attacked the agent of the Action Democratic Congress, ADC, who also tried to intervene.

Taiwo poured dry gin on the face of the ADC agent, before other thugs surfaced from different corners with axes and attacked the INEC officials and materials.

Reports from Iperu in Ikenne local government area of the State, indicated that there were
sporadic as hoodlums suspected to be political thugs snatched away two ballot boxes at Polling Unit 05, Ward 03 in Ayegbami area of the town.

The hoodlums, whose number could not be ascertained, invaded the polling unit on motorcycles and started  shooting into the air with the aim of chasing away voters. 

They however, succeeded at escaping with one of the ballot boxes, before security operatives at the nearby road intersection responded with corresponding gun shots to the scene while the Assistant Polling Officer (APO) for the unit, Alalade Babatunde was beaten up.

The development however, resulted in chaos, forcing many electorates to scamper for safety to avoid being hit by strayed bullets.

Speaking with newsmen, a voter, who simply identified himself as Ade, accused members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the town of being the brain behind the incident.

Reacting to the issue of ballot box snatching, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr.
Frank Mba, said no ballot box was snatched or taken away by hoodlums that attacked polling Units, Ward 3, Ayegbami in Iperu.

Speaking at the scene of the incident, Frank Mba, confirmed to newsmen that no ballot boxes was snatched.

He noted that everything that happened at the polling unit remained a characteristics of Nigeria style of democracy.

" What you saw here is one of those few areas where people disagree. Disagreement is a core characteristic of politicking, electioneering and voting .

" We are here to intervene when there were such tension and solve the problem and move on . We were told there were gun shots, no one was injured , no casualties .

" That speaks volume on the kind of security arrangements we put in place.

" If we were not on ground , if the arrangement wasn't tight, strong and effective enough, probably we would have come here and receive the news that one person killed and series of injuries but we don't have such.

" The people told me clearly that no ballot box was snatched and that was quite reassuring, I told them we are leaving police men on ground and they should be calm.

" If ballot boxes were snatched, the tension would have been higher than this, they would not have listened to me.

" I asked them whether any ballot boxes was taking and they said no," Mba said.

The commissioner said that he had patrolled  the city, villages , saying that  it had been a very peaceful election .

"Am in touch with all my Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers, am also in touch with the visiting Commissioners of Police who visited the state and are supporting our operations".

"Each of those Commissioners are in charge of the three Senatorial Districts".

"Am optimistic that at the end of the day,  we will have a very good outing," he said. 

“We have been able to take care of INEC facilities and an enabling environment for the ordinary citizens to come out and cast their vote".

“I actually admitted to the fact that we have a few isolated cases of violence , most of those incidence were nib in the bud, we were able to actually take care of them before they become issues that can actually cause major concise for law and other".

Speaking on the conducting of the governoship and State Assembly elections in the State, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Niyi Ijalaye, said the quick arrival of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and other electoral materials to polling units in the state was commendable.

He said that from what he gathered very early in the morning after visiting five Local Government Areas including, Ado-Odo/Ota, Ifo, Ewokoro, Obafemi Owode, the election materials came on time while the BVAS performed accurately.

The REC also added that apart from the quick arrival of electoral materials, presiding officers of INEC were at their desks as early as 8:am waiting for the electorates in the state to come and cast their votes for the Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections.

He said that the voters turn out in the early morning was very impressive, noting that by 8:30 to 9:am, people were already at their polling units in some parts of the state to exercise their franchise, just as he also commended the security operatives for a job well done.

Ijalaye said "The situation has been very great. We went round most local government areas in the state since morning. I have been to Ota, Ifo, Ewekoro, Abeokuta South and Obafemi Owode local government. 

"The security situation has been so commendable because the police and other security agencies were been so corporative and deployed their men to various polling units and the peace in the state is equally commendable".

In the meantime, operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on election duty stop and search arrested four People's Democratic Party's agents in the State.

The party agents were arrested with hundreds of money credit cards.

According to NDLEA, the intentions of the agents were to buy votes at Ibara Housing Estate, Abeokuta, Ogun state.

Each card contains N10,000 and is activated to cash with a code.

It was gathered that the agents have been handed over to the police after proper documentation.

Also, Police operatives arrested an agent of the People's Democratic Party, with over 300 PVCs, Verve Prepaid ATM Cards with the name "Caroline Oladunni Adebutu Memorial Endowment Scheme, and cash at Agbado in Ifo local government area of Ogun State.

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